The Red Sox have quite the dilemma on their hands as baseball’s hot stove season approaches scorch status.For the first time in a long time they have a boatload of cash to spend. The issue?
There’s no one available to spend it on, or so it seems.
All of the big name free agents (Josh Hamilton, Zach Greinke, B.J. Upton) have their fair share of well-documented issues. Conservative fans say that dropping $25 million per season on a troubled but talented player like Hamilton is fiscal insanity.
But here’s the thing: big time baseball has and always will be a madhouse of spending and the Red Sox have and always will be one of the looniest members of the shack.
Though the Red Sox have lowered expectations to an alarming level over the past two seasons, that does not mean that they suddenly need to be a hardball also-ran when it comes to dishing out cash.
Make no mistake, money still wins in this sport. The AL champion Tigers were a top five spending team in MLB this past season. The World Series champion Giants were in the top 10. Crack on the bloated payroll of the Yankees all you want, but they haven’t missed the playoffs since 2008.
The Red Sox shouldn’t whip up a repeat of the 2010 offseason, when they brought in Adrian Gonzalez AND Carl Crawford. But, looking back, risking $20 million on one of the two would not have been nearly as catastrophic. It would have been a calculated baseball risk.
The “fiscally irresponsible” label that GM Ben Cherington wants to avoid is fine. All general managers, whether small or big market, should look to spend wisely. Still, when a player like Hamilton, who has a .314 batting average and has averaged 33 homers and 107 RBIs over the past three seasons goes on the open market, a team with pockets like Boston owes it to its fanbase to at least look at potentially signing that talent.
Hamilton is not Gonzalez, he’s not Crawford and he’s not Josh Beckett. He’s his own man.
There is as much beer in northeast Texas as there is in Boston and Hamilton has built up enough goodwill over the past few years for people to truly believe that baseball is his first love. He is in the prime of his career. The Red Sox desperately need another big bat in the middle of their lineup.
If one of these mid-market teams becomes fiscally insane and gives Hamilton a Godfather offer, so be it. If the Yankees decide to go nuts and blow everyone else out of the water, so be it.
All I’m asking is for is the Red Sox to remember who they are if everyone else skimps with Hamilton: the team with the second biggest pocketbook in baseball and a team that isn’t afraid to take a risk once in a while for a shot at getting back to the postseason.